Skip to content

Menu trends to spark inspiration and sales in professional kitchens


Providing ideas, innovation and impact, Unilever Food Solutions' Future Menu Trends Report 2024 is a key driver in the business’s growing success story. We look at how UFS is leveraging its powerful market insights and cutting-edge product portfolio to attract, engage and support chefs.

A Unilever Food Solutions chef cooking up one of the new Menu Trends recipes.

Unilever Food Solutions’ Future Menu Trends Report 2024 is out, and as always it is serving up much more than a glimpse of what’s hot in the professional kitchens of the world.

In addition to being a practical playbook of recipes that helps chefs get trending dishes on the table, the report also provides a key touchpoint for UFS to engage with the industry.

Drawing on the expertise of 250 in-house UFS chefs, the report leverages insights from more than 1,600 food service professionals across 21 markets to maximise engagement with existing customers, reach out to new clients and showcase innovative products from the Knorr Professional and Hellmann’s range which can support chefs in reaching their culinary goals.

“Unilever Food Solutions is a business of chefs for chefs,” says Star Chen, CEO, Unilever Food Solutions. “Our close communication with food service professionals allows us to have an in-depth understanding of their needs and pain points, which consequently allows us to offer unmissable, superior products that help address those needs.”

Group shot of Unilever Food Solutions chefs in white uniforms.

On the menu: growth, reach, engagement and sales

There is clearly an appetite for this kind of practical inspiration.

A recent Kantar report revealed that trends and recipe inspiration were in the top three most sought-after categories for chefs.

Since its launch in 2023, the report has had more than 3 billion media impressions and engagements with food service professionals worldwide through the report’s online/digital lead-generation model. This in turn has contributed to a 13% increase in new customers, allowing the brand to hit its 3 million operator target two years ahead of schedule.

But what is key for UFS is how this connection converts into action.

Close-up of a sunflower being sliced before being cooked.

From inspiration to impact

“The Future Menu recipes offer us the opportunity to present our key products in action,” says Kees van Erp, UFS Global Executive Chef. “And to highlight how our innovations, be they in product or packaging or application, can address chefs’ pain points that we have identified in each market.”

UFS products used in Future Menu recipes, for example, may only constitute a small portion of the overall dish cost, but by providing shortcuts to great taste and texture, they make a significant impact both in terms of the quality of the final dish and the total food and overhead costs.

By showcasing the advantages of UFS products in this way, the Future Menu Trends report supports the business’s strategy of delivering consistent, competitive growth with superior products from core brands like Knorr Professional and Hellmann’s.

It’s a strategy that is certainly delivering. UFS has seen double-digit growth in 2023, with positive volume and price growth driven by its strong presence in Europe, North America and North Asia.

A Unilever Food Solutions chef smiling as she plates up.

Trends that reflect kitchen concerns

Staying relevant to the challenges professional kitchens are under is key to UFS, which is why every year the menu trends evolve to reflect the pressures imposed by the current economic climate.

Consequently, this year’s Future Menu Trends offer a careful blend of authentic and inspiring on-trend recipes, perfectly adapted to the needs of kitchens looking to reduce labour and utilities costs and preparation time.

However, they also reflect front-of-house diner demands. This year, for example, there has been a special focus on Gen Z dining preferences.

“Gen Z demand bigger, better, more vibrant unforgettable experiences, seeing food as a form of escapism and regularly making dining choices based on the stories behind the food that they find on social media,” explains Angela Klute, Global CMO,

Here are two examples of the Future Menu Trends in action.

Close-up of purple cabbage leaf.
  • The trend: Flavour Shock is an ‘anything goes’ approach that takes ingredients and gives them a serious and surprising culinary makeover.
  • Chef’s advantage: With talent shortages and energy costs impacting the industry, chefs are looking for low-touch methods that achieve maximum impact. Knorr Professional offers the perfect solution with its extensive bouillon and seasoning portfolio. Its Liquid Concentrates and Intense Flavours seasonings, for example, deliver high-quality flavour boosts with easy dosage and minimal time and labour demands, while its Knorr Authentic Demi-Glace allows chefs to create a rich, flavourful sauce base in a few minutes instead of an hour.
  • The bottom line: The Knorr Professional Bouillon and Seasonings category saw underlying sales growth of 15% in 2023.
Close-up of green edamame beans in a pod.
  • The trend: Plant-Powered Protein encourages chefs to make the most of plant-based dishes.
  • Chef’s advantage: With 89% of meat-free meals being eaten by non-vegetarians, chefs can optimise their operations with menus that cater to all. Hellmann’s Vegan is a perfect trend match, allowing chefs to create rich and creamy sauces, dips and sides using a mayo that suits all diets.
  • The bottom line: UFS has seen an increase in demand for Hellmann’s Vegan which has enjoyed a two-year compound annual growth rate of over 50%.

Related articles

A chef consulting his phone in a professional kitchen while another chef works  in the background

How Unilever Food Solutions fast-tracked its Covid comeback

In 2020, Unilever Food Solutions lost 70% of its business overnight as the pandemic forced restaurants around the world to close. Three years later, the business is enjoying double-digit growth and has overtaken pre-pandemic volumes. We take a look at how UFS has come out better and stronger.

A composite image of chefs cooking in a busy kitchen

Menu trends 2023: Look what's cooking

The Unilever Food Solutions Future Menu Trends Report 2023 provides more than just a taste of what’s hot in the food world this year. It’s also a practical playbook, helping chefs to get these trends on the table simply, sustainably and cost effectively.

Back to top